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Space & Astronomy

Mystery as NASA investigates anomalous Voyager 1 telemetry

By T.K. Randall
May 22, 2022 · Comment icon 21 comments

Voyager 1 still going strong. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The long-lived space probe has been sending back some unusual data and nobody can figure out why.
Launched in 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have traveled further from the Earth than any other man-made object in history and remain operational despite over 40 years of traveling through space.

Now though, Voyager 1 has become the focus of a mystery in the form of readouts from its attitude articulation and control system (AACS) which don't seem to reflect what's happening onboard.

Everything on the spacecraft appears to be working correctly - it is successfully receiving and executing commands and its high-gain antenna is still pointing back towards the Earth.

The telemetry data, however, is gibberish - appearing either randomly generated or reflecting an invalid state for the AACS.
Whatever the problem is, it hasn't triggered any of the onboard fault protection systems, so the precise cause of the anomalous readouts remains something of a mystery for NASA's engineers.

As things stand, Voyager 1 doesn't appear to be in any immediate danger, however NASA will continue to work on the problem in an effort to determine what might be going wrong.

"A mystery like this is sort of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission," said project manager Suzanne Dodd.

"The spacecraft are both almost 45 years old, which is far beyond what the mission planners anticipated. We're also in interstellar space - a high-radiation environment that no spacecraft have flown in before. So there are some big challenges for the engineering team."

"But I think if there's a way to solve this issue with the AACS, our team will find it."

Source: Sci Tech Daily | Comments (21)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by Myles 6 months ago
Have any probes been launched with no certain destination in recent years?   I should just Google it, but I guess I'm as bit lazy today.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Trelane 6 months ago
Space or political? 
Comment icon #14 Posted by L.A.T.1961 6 months ago
No, all launched probes have a specific mission, although missions can be extended with new goals set later. It would be nice to see a chase probe built just in case something interesting is spotted in the solar system and a fast launch would be useful.  Like ?Oumuamua.    
Comment icon #15 Posted by qxcontinuum 6 months ago
It's possible that has been " captured " and its under studies?  I wonder what kind of readings it sends, no one is providing specifics as usual. Mmm
Comment icon #16 Posted by jethrofloyd 6 months ago
When Uri Geller says it's a aliens.........then it must be ALIENS!
Comment icon #17 Posted by HSlim 6 months ago
Well if Spoonman says so...
Comment icon #18 Posted by pallidin 6 months ago
You know, I'm just amazed as to how resilient this craft is. Then I'm equally amazed at how power can be continued to be supplied through presumably RTG technologies. Like others have indicated, hats-off to the many engineers involved.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Hyperionxvii 6 months ago
I know! Like, my alarm clock did not go off in 3 days, and I said 'ALIENS!'. It's always aliens!
Comment icon #20 Posted by NCC1701 6 months ago
Comment icon #21 Posted by qxcontinuum 6 months ago
Of  course saucers do require spoons...

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